Tuesday, January 16, 2018
  • Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2017
"The Jungle Book," "Kubo and The Two Strings" Take Top Feature Honors At VES Awards
"The Jungle Book" (photo courtesy of Disney)
"Game of Thrones" wins 5 awards; John Lewis’ “Buster the Boxer” commercial dominates
  • BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP)
  • --

The Jungle Book (Disney) scored five Visual Effects Society (VES) Awards on Tuesday night (2/7), including the marquee honor for outstanding VFX in a photoreal feature. The 15th annual competition’s other top award, best effects in an animated feature, went to Kubo and the Two Strings (Laika/Focus Features).

Game of Thrones (HBO) led the TV derby with five VES Awards, including its “Battle of the Bastards” earning best VFX distinction for a photoreal episode.

The dominant commercial in the VES competition was John Lewis’ “Buster the Boxer” for which MPC London served as VFX house. Dougal Wilson of Blink Productions directed the spot for retailer John Lewis and agency adam&eveDDB, London. “Buster the Boxer” scored three VES honors--for outstanding visual effects spot, best animated performance in a commercial for the Buster character, and best compositing in a photoreal spot. The ad tells a magical, make-believe story of Buster the Boxer dog and his family at Christmas. We are introduced to a little girl named Bridget who loves to jump. Her parents buy her a trampoline and hide it in the garden to surprise her with on Christmas Day.  However, after dark, in a magical world observed only by Buster, a cast of wildlife animals emerges--two foxes, a badger, a squirrel, and a hedgehog--who discover the trampoline and have fun jumping. On Christmas morning, Bridget excitedly runs out into the garden to discover her present--however Buster bounds past her and starts bouncing on her trampoline. She watches him wide-eyed. The tale tied into John Lewis’ selection of The Wildlife Trusts as its 2016 Xmas campaign charity partner.

More than 1,000 industry folk gathered at the Beverly Hilton for the VES Awards ceremony to celebrate VFX talent across 24 award categories and herald the VES’ 20th anniversary. Additionally the VES Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to VFX pioneer Ken Ralston, a five-time Oscar winner--four Best VFX Academy Awards for Forest Gump, Death Becomes Her, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and Cocoon, and a Special Achievement Award for Star Wars: Episode VI--Return of the Jedi.

Honored with the VES Visionary Award was acclaimed producer Victoria Alonso, Marvel Studios’ executive VP of physical production, who made an impassioned plea for more women to be afforded career opportunities in visual effects. One one hand, she noted that progress is being made, relating that at the 2016 SIGGRAPH confab in Anaheim, Calif., she saw a line outside the women’s restroom. Alonso affirmed that’s the first time she saw such a line in 20 years of attending SIGGRAPH.

Still, there’s much work to be done. Alonso said that out of some 470 nominees at this year’s VES Awards, only a little more than 40 were female. “We can do better,” she affirmed, urging her colleagues to look inside their rooms and outside their buildings for talented women. “Have we looked around enough,” said Alonso, in order to find more of a gender balance? Bringing new talent into the mix, she added, might in many instances help to “create something beyond what we thought we could do.”

Here’s a category-by-category rundown of winners at the 15th Annual VES Awards:

Outstanding Visual Effects in a Photoreal Feature 
The Jungle Book    
Robert Legato    
Joyce Cox    
Andrew R. Jones    
Adam Valdez    
JD Schwalm

Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Photoreal Feature
Deepwater Horizon    
Craig Hammack    
Petra Holtorf-Stratton    
Jason Snell    
John Galloway    
Burt Dalton

Outstanding Visual Effects in an Animated Feature
Kubo and the Two Strings    
Travis Knight    
Arianne Sutner    
Steve Emerson    
Brad Schiff    

Outstanding Visual Effects in a Photoreal Episode
Game of Thrones; Battle of the Bastards    
Joe Bauer    
Steve Kullback    
Glenn Melenhorst    
Matthew Rouleau    
Sam Conway

Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Photoreal Episode
Black Sails; XX    
Erik Henry    
Terron Pratt    
Aladino Debert    
Yafei Wu    
Paul Stephenson

Outstanding Visual Effects in a Real-Time Project
Uncharted 4    
Bruce Straley        
Eben Cook    
Iki Ikram

Outstanding Visual Effects in a Commercial
John Lewis; "Buster the Boxer"    
Diarmid Harrison-Murray    
Hannah Ruddleston    
Fabian Frank    
William Laban    

Outstanding Visual Effects in a Special Venue Project
Pirates of the Caribbean; Battle for the Sunken Treasure    
Bill George    
Amy Jupiter    
Hayden Landis    
David Lester    

Outstanding Animated Performance in a Photoreal Feature
The Jungle Book; King Louie    
Paul Story    
Dennis Yoo    
Jack Tema    
Andrei Coval    

Outstanding Animated Performance in an Animated Feature
Finding Dory; Hank    
Jonathan Hoffman    
Steven Clay Hunter    
Mark Piretti    
Audrey Wong

Outstanding Animated Performance in an Episode or Real-Time Project
Game of Thrones; Battle of the Bastards; Drogon    
James Kinnings    
Michael Holzl    
Matt Derksen    
Joseph Hoback

Outstanding Animated Performance in a Commercial
John Lewis; "Buster the Boxer"   
Tim van Hussen    
David Bryan    
Chloe Dawe    
Maximilian Mallmann

Outstanding Created Environment in a Photoreal Feature
Doctor Strange; New York City    
Adam Watkins    
Martijn van Herk    
Tim Belsher    
Jon Mitchell

Outstanding Created Environment in an Animated Feature    
Moana; Motunui Island    
Rob Dressel    
Andy Harkness    
Brien Hindman    
Larry Wu

Outstanding Created Environment in an Episode, Commercial, or Real-Time Project
Game of Thrones; Battle of the Bastards; Meereen City    
Deak Ferrand    
Dominic Daigle    
François Croteau 
Alexandru Banuta

Outstanding Virtual Cinematography in a Photoreal Project
The Jungle Book    
Bill Pope    
Robert Legato    
Gary Roberts    
John Brennan

Outstanding Model in a Photoreal or Animated Project
Deepwater Horizon; Deepwater Horizon Rig    
Kelvin Lau    
Jean Bolte    
Kevin Sprout    
Kim Vongbunyong

Outstanding Effects Simulations in a Photoreal Feature
The Jungle Book; Nature Effects    
Oliver Winwood    
Fabian Nowak    
David Schneider    
Ludovic Ramisandraina

Outstanding Effects Simulations in an Animated Feature
Moana    
Marc Henry Bryant    
David Hutchins    
Ben Frost    
Dale Mayeda

Outstanding Effects Simulations in an Episode, Commercial, or Real-Time Project
Game of Thrones; Battle of the Bastards; Meereen City    
Thomas Hullin    
Dominik Kirouac    
James Dong    
Xavier Fourmond

Outstanding Compositing in a Photoreal Feature
The Jungle Book    
Christoph Salzmann    
Masaki Mitchell    
Matthew Adams    
Max Stummer

Outstanding Compositing in a Photoreal Episode
Game of Thrones; Battle of the Bastards; Retaking Winterfell    
Dominic Hellier    
Morgan Jones    
Thijs Noij    
Caleb Thompson

Outstanding Compositing in a Photoreal Commercial
John Lewis; "Buster the Boxer" 
Tom Harding    
Alex Snookes    
David Filipe    
Andreas Feix

Outstanding Visual Effects in a Student Project (presented by Autodesk)
Breaking Point    
Johannes Franz    
Nicole Rothermel    
Thomas Sali    
Alexander Richter

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